During my twenties and thirties, I sang at weddings, funerals, and assorted karaoke events with equal enthusiasm. My most requested song was “The Lord’s Prayer,” and I finessed the perfect ending:
The last line of the song is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen. I sang the words in a crescendo until I reached the high note on the second syllable of “forever” and held the note long and loud until the audience squirmed. Then using the same breath, I slid down the scale to hit the note on the third syllable, saying “vah” instead of the hard “r” sound. I took a breath and sang “Amen” using vibrato with the passion of a celestial choir.
I can’t do that anymore.
I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy heart disease after a heart attack in June resulted in an echocardiogram followed with angiogram surgery in July. I’m taking eight medications, but I still can’t catch my breath, so a myocardial MRI is scheduled in a few weeks. Because of my broken heart, I can’t sing four words without stopping.
I loved to sing. At the University of Idaho, I was selected for the Jazz Choir and the Vandaleer Concert Choir. In 1971, the Vandaleers toured Europe and sang in old cathedrals in six countries. Most of the students had never been out of the USA, and a few hadn’t left the state. When the airplane took off from Heathrow Airport in London to return home, I began sobbing and couldn’t stop. The adventure changed my life, and my goal was to travel the world with a song in my heart.
I was fortunate to travel through the next few decades, and I kept singing. When my two children were born, my repertoire included favorite lullabies such as “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck” and “Momma’s Gonna Buy You a Mocking Bird.” I made up several songs, and their favorites were “Teeny Tiny Baby Boo” and “Two Kids on My Lap.” I sang around the house, and my five-year-old son would sing along with me for part of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.
And the glory, the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all nations shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Because I played and sang the soundtrack from “Les Miserables” so many times, my daughter could sing the entire score by the time she was 11 years old. The touring company was years away from traveling to Idaho, so I took her to Chicago to see a live performance. That was the first of many journeys to see various musical productions.
Over the last few years, my singing was limited to lullabies with my grandchildren. I also sang in the shower and when driving alone. I couldn’t reach the high notes but managed to fake the melodies. The heart attack has taken away an important part of my life, and I don’t know if I’ll ever sing again.
To keep the music playing, I started to play songs on the piano and asked for requests on my Facebook account. So far, I’ve played more than 25 requests, adding costumes and decorations for each song. Requests range from patriotic to spiritual to silly to entertaining. I believe I’m helping to heal my broken heart by giving music to others. This is a harmonious strategy to keep my heart beating in rhythm while sharing songs. And the people said, “Amen,” with vibrato.